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B the hokey!

July 20, 2012



Time methinks for a list of some of the Bs hanging out on my bookshelves, and a few of the titles.

Beryl Bainbridge  Queeney

Salwa Bakr   (An Egyptian writer)  The Golden Chariot

John Banville

Pat Barker

Mourid Barghouti (NF)

Julian Barnes  Arthur and George.  (Hated The Sense of an Ending.)

Sebastian Barry

Samuel Beckett  (The Main Man)

Alan Bennett (NF)

Tahar Ben Jelloun   This Blinding Absence of Light

Elizabeth Bowen

Rosita Boland

John Boyne

Anthony Burgess  A Dead Man in Deptford

Melvyn Bragg    Rich, A life of Richard Burton

Vera Brittain (NF)

Maeve Brennan

Charlotte and Anne Brontë   (Reader, I have yet to read Wuthering Heights)

Gabriel Byrne (NF)

SO – what to recommend from the above? They all stayed on my shelves and survived the odd cull.

Look at Burgess again. I think he’s fallen out of favour a bit nowadays. I remember his curmudgeonly interviews on chat shows, and a line of his to the effect that one can never escape a Catholic Irish upbringing – no matter how much one tries !

Read all of Beckett. Some people think that our Sam is dour and negative; no fun at all. WRONG!  He and his creatures are the very best of companions. But remember, read Beckett aloud.

Maeve Brennan has been rediscovered. There is a steeliness and a fragility in her writing, and characters, that mirror her own story.

Sebastian Barry‘s description of the first experience of a gas attack in the trenches of WWI  in A Long Long Way is superb…

… But, Pat Barker’s Regeneration is magnificent. The individual titles are: Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, The Ghost Road.  You might as well buy the lot in one compendium; once you’ve read the first one, you’ll want to read the next two immediately.  THE  novels of  WWI. The story of Billy weaves in and around real-life incidences and encounters. Locations are Craiglockhart in Scotland, the trenches, pubs steaming with a mingle of humanity, and lonely rooms. There are munitions girls, soldiers, WHR Rivers, Siegfried Sassoon, and Wilfrid Owen. Regeneration examines what it is to be human and alive, in Hell.

[Why not read Vera Brittain’s Diaries or the War Poets as companions?]

One Comment
    And as a post script – would you believe it! Dublin Theatre Festival 2012 is showing a play about Maeve Brennan. Worth seeing, I’d say. Written by Emma Donoghue.

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